Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU: In December 2020, the film would indeed appear in theatres across India with the customary disclaimer that it is not a real life story and resemblance, if any, would be just coincidental. However, a part of it would be widely taken as reflection of the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s years of life in Delhi’s Tihar Jail before his execution on 9 February 2013.Even the title name is the real name of Guru’s son Gaalib who had, a few years back, scored distinction in his class 10 and 12 exams at hometown Sopore’s Welkin School and shot into limelight while choosing for himself the path of knowledge and peace. Guru too aspired to become a doctor in 1990s when he was lured to join the terror outfit JKLF. He ultimately landed in Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammad, according to the charges established against him in the trial court. He was prosecuted-and finally convicted and executed-for providing facilitation to the JeM terrorists who attacked the Parliament House in New Delhi on 13 December 2001.His death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of India and appeals of mercy from his family were rejected by then President Pranab Mukherjee. After nearly two years of shooting the Bollywood film is in the post-production and certification phase and the producers have released its trailer on YouTube on Wednesday, 28 October.The movie has been produced by Ghanshyam Patel, co-produced by Nimisha Amin and directed by Manoj Giri. Its script and screenplay have been penned by Dhiraj Mishra and his wife Yashomati Devi. According to director Manoj Giri, ‘Gaalib’ was based on a fiction revolving the life and tough times of a Kashmiri woman and her high dreams about her promising teenage son and it would “change the perception about Jammu and Kashmir ”.While Nikkhil Pitaley is playing Gaalib, versatile actress Dipika Chikhalia, who had played the stellar role of Sita in the famous Doordarshan serial Ramanaya in 198os is playing Shabana, the character resembling Guru’s wife Tabbasum. Much of the outdoor shooting was done in the picturesque Bhaderwah, the breath-taking locales that saw Bollywood back after 33 years-interestingly parallel to the days when Vidhu Vinod Chopra discovered greenhorn Sadia Khateeb for the lead female role in ‘Shikara’ in the same fertile mountains.Released in January 2020, Shikara was a love story woven around the exodus and the exile of the Kashmiri Pandits on the period spanning between 1989 and 2013. Sadia, from Bhaderwah-known as ‘Chhota Kashmir’ (mini Kashmir) in Mumbai-got huge appreciation for her debut. Mir Sarwar, the famous Bollywood and TV actor from Pandraithan Srinagar, is playing the role of Afzal Guru.When the Indian print and the television media carried stories about Gaalib’s passing his Matriculation exam with flying colours,But the writer who was in Delhi at that time busy with some research project was fascinated by Ghalib’s story. “I read about his academic success in one of the newspapers in Delhi. I learned about his struggle,” said the movie writer. The writer’s creativity instantly sparked off and that is when he decided to script the movie with his wife.Interestingly none among director Manoj Giri, writers Dhiraj Mishra and Yashomati Devi and the lead actor Nikkhil Pitaley has ever met with Guru’s wife Tabbasum, son Gaalib or any other family member. “I contacted him on social media platform Instagram but he seemed to be introvert and reluctant to talk. I chose to respect his privacy”, says Mishra. “I have focused on the situations that Kashmiri kids find themselves in and how terrorism impacts their education and lives”. According to him, the movie in Hindi is about “gun versus pen”.Dipika had told reporters during her shooting in Bhaderwah that she was playing the character of a militant’s wife. “Basically we fear a militant… we hate his family. They too are human beings. His wife and his child did not do any wrong. I was a little worried before visiting this place but after reaching here, all my inhibitions fizzled in the breath-taking locales of this unexplored heaven. Now I’m seriously considering buying a place for myself here”.The trailer on Youtube is currently being discussed in the valley’s intelligentsia even as there has been no cinema in Kashmir after the outbreak of militancy in 1989. Even the youths have shown some interest in the story.Donning keffiyeh (chequered black and white scarf) a man with streaks of salt and pepper beard is seen speaking to a female apparently his wife in a court: “Mujhe poora yaqeen hai ki sarkaar mujhe kabhi bhi phaansi de sakte hai,” (I’m sure that the government will hang me anytime) the trailer opens with a passionate delivery from Mir Sarwar. “Jo raasta maine chuna hai, tum kabhi mat chun na”, he counsels Gaalib in the jail.
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